Tag Archives: turnkey promotions blog

Time to Pull Up Those Rituals by the Roots

Katrina VanHussNot too long ago my fiancée and I rescued a dog. The dog had been, as we say in the South, “released from service” which means a hunter thought the dog could no longer hunt so he let him go. There’s a whole ‘nother blog about people like that. But that’s not what we’re talking about today.

We brought the dog back to Richmond, named him Jeff, spent a bunch of money at the emergency vet (holy XXXX!), and finally brought him home. At first Jeff wouldn’t eat dog food or drink fresh water. But, when let into the back yard, Jeff ate enthusiastically from the compost pile and drank from the murky lake.

Around the same time we acquired Jeff, I hired an operations guy for my company. He looks into our patterns of communication and methods of accomplishing our work. Turns out Jeff is not the only one with a few ingrained behaviors that need to be changed. Jeff was eating rotten banana peels; we were using a 60-day timeline “just because.” We (at Turnkey) hadn’t had a fresh eye on us for so long we didn’t even know we were doing some counterproductive stuff because it felt normal and safe.

Am I worried you’ll think, “Why would I trust this company if the CEO compares their behavior to a dog eating a rotten banana?” Yes, I’m a little afraid of that and hopeful you’ll think, instead, “Wow, what refreshing honesty” or “Constantly looking inward… I like that”, or “I love composting!”

Regardless of what you think of composting, one thing is clear to me — doing the safe and “normal” thing over and over is clearly a trait of living things. That makes me wonder, do I have deeply implanted rituals in my life that need to be firmly yanked out by the roots? How about you?

25 Cool Things I’ve Learned About Business

Turnkey Promotions' CEO, Katrina VanHussAccording to certain legal documents I have filed somewhere, Turnkey Promotions was officially “born” in 1989; on October 1 to be exact. That makes this year, 2014, the 25th year I’ve been in business for myself. That’s a lot of years of sweat, sleepless nights, and just plain stress. But, it’s also been a lot of joy, new discoveries, and success.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned over the last quarter century, and I’ve decided to make a list. Here are 25 pretty cool things I’ve learned about business. I’ve sprinkled a few life lessons in here too. Enjoy!

25 Cool Things I’ve Learned in the Last 25 Years of Business:

  1. You figure out what you are working so hard to buy, but find you typically already own it.
  2. You care less than you use to about stupid things, like your brand manual.
  3. You care more about things that matter, like keeping your promises.
  4. Most of the jerks move on and never call you again.
  5. The nice people also move on, but they do call you again. 
  6. You’ve been wrong enough times to be used to it.
  7. You’ve been right enough times to continue the pursuit of it.
  8. Sometimes the best product or service will not win the day, no matter what.
  9. You figure out it really is about the relationship.
  10. Office supplies are still intriguing.
  11. You can’t change others.
  12. You can change yourself.
  13. Being childish is ok, even necessary sometimes.
  14. Laughter fixes most stuff.
  15. Some people are mean. They are to be avoided and pitied.
  16. If you can’t avoid the mean people, acknowledge their handicap in your mind.
  17. There are a lot of business rules. Most of them are broken regularly by really smart people.
  18. A few of the business rules really matter. Don’t break these.
  19. If you are in a cool business (like promotional products), inbound mail is fun. 
  20. People who know nothing often “get it” much more quickly than those with mental baggage they call education.
  21. You will probably see people in big roles who you knew when they were just starting out.
  22. Environment is important, especially lighting.
  23. When you are sick, your business doesn’t care. The people who work there do.
  24. Friends happen everywhere, in all contexts.
  25. You should, in fact, lock the doors at night.

One Cause. One Hundred Nonprofits.

Kvh_Elbow_300I am baffled and frustrated by the proliferation of nonprofits. Often, in one small locale, multiple groups try and serve exactly the same audience. When you dig into these groups, often they are offshoots of the same group. They frequently are started by people who became disgruntled with the original group. Instead of compromising (oh – bad word these days) and coming to agreement on whatever caused the tiff, they took their ball and went to play elsewhere.

The end result? Multiple groups trying to serve the same at-risk populations, in very similar ways. Duplication of effort and infrastructure result, accompanied by a huge serving of consumer and public confusion and frustration. 

And then there are the sane people, like the folks at Autism Speaks. This organization came about through four groups deciding that the mission was more important than the glamour shot that each individual organization provided their founders and leadership. This set of people dispassionately said, “We can do more and better work if we work together.” Instantly they became the largest group serving those with autism. Instantly their brand recognition sky-rocketed. Instantly their impact increased, and, I would guess, their costs decreased.

Can’t we do better by giving up the “I’m the founder” or “I’m the CEO” mantle in trade for greater service to your mission? 

Why should U.S. taxpayers confer a tax free status on someone who simply disagrees with management at a nonprofit? Shouldn’t there be even the lowest of bars to gain that status, like an evaluation of the need in that community?

Shouldn’t the requirement to start a nonprofit be more than “I’m willing to do a mountain of paperwork?”

Does the current system of conferring nonprofit tax status encourage a self-selection of people who are willing to do mountains of paperwork and are unwilling to compromise?

I would like to know what YOU think!